The Simple Things. Peonies and Ranunculus.

When I started this blog, several months ago, I committed myself to writing about the things I love. However simple or seemingly insignificant. It is easy to get sucked into the drawl of life at times. This post is inspired by one of those moments that happened recently that really snapped me out of it. I had just gotten home from work and it was a longggg week. I was rambling on about some story about something that felt important at the time. Ryley had dinner on the stove and I was rambling and getting things ready for dinner; multi-tasking per usual. Picking up odds and ends off our island, getting plates out, etc. I had my hands full of plates, cups, silverware and I continued to ramble as I turned around to head for the table when I saw them. Delicate, natural, and beautiful. My loving husband had purchased flowers for me. And not just any flowers from the pick n save florist- these were the most special flowers. These are my favorite flowers; the ones that I had hand selected for our wedding day. I was so taken aback by this kind gesture that for days I touched them, smelled them, and photographed them. So today I leave you with this; sometimes it’s the simple things.

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The photos are taken by my loving husband (and some by me too), who is also the one that got me these lovely flowers! The sweet pink shirt is from Anthropology. The necklace is from Forever 21. Jeans are from The Loft. The pink loafers are Steve Maddens.

Oh Happy Valentine! Pink and Polka Dots.

It’s usually about a 50-50 shot when you ask someone whether they enjoy Valentine’s day. But if more people looked at it as a chance to celebrate all things “sweet” such as love, chocolate, the tender curiosity of a child, an hour of quality time with your sister in pj’s watching chick flicks, etc., more people might join the movement. Or maybe it is just a good excuse for a chic outfit! Whether you hate or love the Hallmark holiday that is before us, embrace your feminine side with this sweetie polka-dot blouse! Date or No Date- this girly polka dot outfit is for everyone! Can be dressed down to wear doing errands with a simple pair of slacks, or dress it up with these girly peep-toe pink heels!

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The photos you see here are taken by the lovely man with whom I plan to spend my Valentine’s day this year and every year after!

This feminine polka dot blouse is from The Loft (watch for a 40% off sale and it will be a steal!). The blush handbag is from The Limited. The pink peep-toe heels are from Macy’s (they are old- not sure what brand). Belt is from Forever 21. Skirt is from H&M. Watch is from The Buckle. The calligraphy in the sunburst frame is done by me and the frame is from Ben Franklin Crafts.

Never Forget Your Honeymoon.

When my hubby and I were planning our honeymoon to Puerto Rico, we new that we were about to have a once in a lifetime experience. Similar to the wedding day itself, we also knew that the honeymoon would fly by quicker than we could imagine. We wanted a way to forever remember the love and romance that came with our honeymoon experience in Humacao, PR. I decided that photos were a great way to achieve this. But after what we paid for our wedding, there was no way we could afford to hire a photographer to follow us around for the trip, or even an hour of the trip. So I bought a $15 tripod on amazon, set it up in the sand and we had our own early morning beach honeymoon shoot! And the results are dreamy and intensely romantic!!!

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All photos are taken by me and my tripod! No photographer necessary! Contact me with any questions!! Where did you and your sweetie go on your honeymoon?! 

Love is in the Air.

This is the time of year when most Wisconsin-ites begin to get a little crazy. The cold, the wind, the snow… uhg, the ice scraping and the shoveling. Miserable. Every year this time, I ponder of why I actually continue to live here. All it would take is to pack up our things and we could settle somewhere where we would see the sun for more than 5 months out of the year.

But if there is one thing that the cold does do for us, well, it brings us closer to the ones we love! Cozy fireplaces and cuddling under thick knitted blankies, comfort food galore, and of course, some good movie/couch time! So, when all else in the world seems to be frozen over, grab a glass of wine and get cuddled up with the ones you love. So here’s to you babe!

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Talia and Ryley-380 Talia and Ryley-381Our beautiful wedding photos are taken by Emily Steffen. She is amazing!! Check her out here!

Denim Shirt on a Windy Day.

There’s nothing like a little wind to remind you that winter is right around the corner! These photos were tough, but fun, to take! This shirt is absolutely my GO-TO shirt! It is cozy, versatile, appropriate for any season! It looks great in spring with white jeans or the summer over a cute tank with lace shorts. And now, it carries right into fall and winter as a stand alone or under a cozy knit sweater! This shirt is a closet must-have if I have ever seen one! 🙂

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Pants and black jeans are from The Loft. Shoes are from Marshalls. The photos are taken by my loving husband in Shullsburg, Wi.

 

My Fur Child.

Sometimes I feel bad that I am gone so much and not able to spend as much time with my puppy as I wish I could. My husband would tell you that he feels bad about it too. But as far as I know, most people would find me psychologically insane if I were to quit my job to become a stay-at-home-dog-mom… my secret dream job! 😉 So this post is just about him- my fur child!

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Visit to Family Farm.

Life has a way of making time fly by when you are busy doing things you love, and crawl when you have a distaste for your surroundings. Lately, life has been flying. It was just finally last week when my husband and I made it back to visit his family on their farm in Shullsburg, Wi. The farm has been owned by his grandfather and his father for many years and is particularly special because each time we go back, we find nothing but the love and warmth that comes from laughing with family. This is one of the most BEAUTIFUL times of year to go back and visit because the animals are lively, the corn stalks are a beautiful golden brown, the autumn air is crisp, and that makes cozying up with our loved ones even more fun!

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Ode to the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Fall has officially fallen! The leaves are turning and there is NOTHING I crave more this time of year than a cozy cup of pumpkin spice AMAZINGNESS (yes, I made up a word for the sake of doing the pumpkin spice latte justice!). I think it’s safe to say that the “honeymoon” period of the school year is over and the true colors are shining brightly! As a teacher, this can take a toll on the sanity of your life from Monday to Friday. My husband and I decided it was time to spend some quality time just enjoying each others’ company, reading a book, and having some long needed bonding time. Where better to make this happen than starbucks with a pumpkin spice latte in hand!

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Photos taken by my loving husband, as always! Nummy Pumpkin Spice Latte credit goes to Starbucks! That awesome watch that has a map on it is from etsy!

 

The Big Day. From the Mother-of-the-Bride’s Eyes.

When you start planning your wedding it suddenly seems as though every person in your life thinks that their sole purpose is to give you advice on what the big day should be like. This can be great… if you are actually interested in hearing what Great Great Aunt Bittie has to say about your wedding taste. But all joking aside, a week before my wedding I received one of the best pieces of advice I could have ever asked for. A close friend told me to make sure that no matter what happens on the big day, that my now-husband and I take a moment to remove ourselves from the scene and just “take it all in.” To visually look at the moments before us. It is something many couples wish they had done in retrospect.

And so we did. My husband and I stepped aside and spent a moment just absorbing the beauty in front of us. I could spend all day describing what that moment felt like as the bride. When you plan your own wedding, it is so easy to get swept away in flowers, dresses, caterers and cakes. You don’t realize what the day feels like from someone else’s perspective. My mother, who happens to be an excellent writer, decided to spend some time recapping the day from the eyes of the mother-of-the-bride. This piece she wrote is truly touching and is a perspective most brides don’t take the time to consider. I will let her words speak for themselves. I hope you find this to be as enlightening and beautiful as I do.

So my piece of advice to all future brides is simply this: don’t forget what a big day this is for the ones who love you too.

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Written by Robyn Martino. Photos by Emily Steffen.

Love and Joy

February 8th, 2013:  “Mom, where are you guys” my daughter shouted through the phone?   “We’re on our way home, what’s up,” I asked?  “Hurry up, I have to show you something,” Talia screamed.  Mike and I drove expediently home where I scrambled out of the car the second Mike put it into park, and moved toward where Talia was jumping up and down, and waving her hand toward me.  “Look, I’m engaged,” she squealed.  Hugging, jumping up and down, and girly screaming ensued.  Of course, Mike and I knew it was coming, as her love, Ryley, had already asked us for her hand in marriage.  Now fast forward to this summer!

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be “The Mother-of-the-Bride”.  I have always known how much I love my daughters. You know, the heart-ripping, passionate, overwhelming spidey-sense tingling need to protect from all evil, can’t sleep at night, fear of everything scary, and find yourself just staring at them in awe, love.  Of course, parents raise their kids to be independent and leave us – how unfair is that, really?  (Now, I suppose that depends upon the child!)

For me, it is difficult – I don’t think I have really let go even though my girls are 22 and 25 years old.  I love them, fear for them, worry about them, and enjoy every minute I get with them – a regular old love-fest!  We are very close and get together almost weekly!  Must be love, right?

That’s what I thought – love.  However, this summer, I think I truly experienced one of those sweet moments of real love.  The planning was complete.  Vintage everything, barn this, barn that, depression glass, calligraphy, dresses – oh, the dresses!  A girly girl’s dream.  Seriously, a place where I shine!  I was in heaven and enjoyed every second of planning for the wedding.  A sense of fun, joy, and a taste of beauty evolving in design for June 22nd.

Then the big day!  I didn’t really know what to expect on her wedding day.  People had certainly asked me how I was feeling about it, and many asked about my son-in-law,still others told their own stories of marrying off their children.  I genuinely thought I would be a mess of emotion.  I was, but not how I expected.  I thought I might be sad – you know – to GIVE my daughter away, or to think I was losing her – all that love and nurturing, done, gone, complete – an ending.  How could love feel so empty?

Surprisingly, none of those emotions capture the day.  There is only one word to describe the day.  Pure, genuine, JOY!  At its purest, finest, state, JOY is overwhelming.  A state of existence where you likely are out of body, mind, and any physical state.  A state of love – everlasting, always changing, growing, nurturing, and eternal. Joyful.

The brides room was buzzing.  Two hairstylists curling, spraying, teasing.  Make-up: every brand, color, and item you can imagine (at least those that went with pale pink).  Four bridesmaid dresses, a flower girl’s dress, two Mother’s dresses, and the brides’ dress all hanging from a steel-pipe-made clothing rack on deep mahogany hangers.  The only distinguishing feature between them was the letter of their first names in gold calligraphy on their hanger.  The bride’s hanger unique, in that the middle brace made of gold wire was artistically bent to spell out Mrs. Laird.  Glistening, Cinderella shoes were planted firmly below the bride’s dress – a major photo opp.  Crystal jewelry, my mother’s hand mirror, a small beaded purse, and the bridal rings adorned the table in this room.  Getting ready was serious, big business – sentimental perfection.  But, there was more.  I slipped silently out of the room to go upstairs and look at the barn, now fully decorated, cakes and flowers proudly filling their designated spaces.

Every detail; yes, every detail had been carefully thought about and executed.  A table filled with 13 glass pedestal cake plates had now been completed with matching cakes of differing sizes, the icing concealing the tasty flavor hidden beneath.  Pink Depression Glass artifacts, pale pink Peonies, and 1930’s glass lanterns completing the look.  A candy-bar filled with a variety of shaped topiary jars, and glass containers each housing delicious ivory candy treats filled a table adding a savory tempting sweetness to the room.  Each table setting complete with a hand-calligraphed menu, a name card, and burlap napkin, flowers in natural wood boxes weaving through the tables.   400 feet of individually placed Bistro lights cascaded like Christmas garland across the barn rafters.  156 mason jars detailed in burlap, lace, flowers, and ribbon placed every foot around the perimeter of the barn with their soft glow illuminating the stories of the authentic barn boards surrounding its guests.

Down below me, the soft sound of male laughter as the groomsmen began the ordeal of figuring out how to put on the tuxedo, the suspenders, and the bowtie.  I hear beer popping open, and think that a beer always helps figure out these advanced things, you know, like bowties and suspenders!  Walking past the groom’s room, I witness a much different scene than I left in the bride’s room.  First, the door was open – clearly, no secrecy around how the groom looks.  All the groomsmen with a beer in hand, smiles on their faces, and every now and again a loud burst of gusty laughter resonating the barn.  An interesting contrast to the brides room.

Back in the bride’s room, I sat in awe, watching my two beautiful daughters; one the bride, one the maid-of-honor.  No surprise that their inseparable childhood partnership would manifest into these roles, and when the time is right, will manifest in reversed roles of bride and maid-of-honor.   Crystals of love sparkled in their eyes when they looked at and to each other.  Talia smiling and glowing throughout the day as she looked at Tori as if to say, can you believe this?  Tori looking back at Talia as only a little sister can. “Wow, is this MY sister? She is so amazing.”

Four o’clock – it is time.  My daughter prepared for the exit from her changing room – my loving husband at her side.  It was time for me to move out into my seat.  A quick look back at the two of them; a proud father, loving daughter, a family gaining a son!  A moment I couldn’t prepare for.  Amazingly, while tears peaked out of my eyes at this scene and many others throughout the wedding, I didn’t feel sad.  It was something I had not recognized or felt in the past.  I was happy, delighted, and found great pleasure in every moment of the day.  I can only describe it as joy.  A  joy that originated from pure love.  The dream of a future and all that it will hold – nothing more precious than watching your children grow.

Epilogue:

Bye-the-way, I believe that adult children do not grow up to leave you, rather they grow up to form a new relationship with you – one totally reflective of the relationship you built for all those formative years, one that is worth every investment of time, love, fear, worry, and growth.  And, another thought, kids aren’t the only ones who grow up!

JOY!  Not just for the holidays, anymore.  ( A line adapted from the Movie, Santa Clause).

 

The PERFECT Blazer

Well I can’t believe it as I write this post, but it is the middle of August already… CRAZY! With the wedding and honeymoon in June and July, and now my new position at work, this summer has absolutely disappeared! And the weather seems to be constantly reminding us that fall is just around the corner. Ryley and I had some running around to do the other day, and I needed something that said “heyyy- it’s still summer- but yeah… i kinda do need a jacket.” This blazer is the absolute BEST purchase I have made in a longgg time! It is comfortable, classy, and greatttt quality! I know what you’re thinking- how could it get any better? 😉 Well, it is also affordable and OH SO soo versatile!!! As you will see I have paired this with shorts and a textured tee for a casual look, but I soooo can’t wait to wear this with a dress and some heals, or with a nice pencil skirt for a more professional look! From errands to work to play- this blazer could NOT beeee more PERFECT!!! Yay!! 🙂 Oh, and have I mentioned that these new white leather loafers are my new obsession- they go with EVERYTHING!

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Okay, so this beyond believable blazer is from H&M and excellent quality. They are currently sold out, so the link is to a similar H&M blazer! Here is another similar blazer. The black and white tee is very old- just pick a comfy tee of any color to make this look work! This tribal tee from Forever 21 would work great!! Shorts are from Hollister- they are a destroyed, medium wash- similar here. The watch is from The Limited (old- similar here). The amazzzzing chandelier earrings are from Ann Taylor- here is a pair that is probably even more amazing than the pair I was wearing! Sunglasses are Kenneth Cole- see similar here. Annnd- those white loafers I am obsessed with are from Aldo here.